“There are few things with less value than last year’s race bike.”
In the short piece, “Coming Soon, Ex-Dick Mann BSA Rocket 3,” regarding the restoration of the three-cylinder race bike at Robert Iannucci’s shop in Brooklyn, New York, I neglected the fact that there are at least two bikes claimed to be Dick Mann’s 1971 Daytona 200 winner.
Authentication of the provenance of highly valued collector motorcycles is beyond the purview of Cycle World, and must be based upon AMA records of engine or chassis numbers of race entries, importer records, contemporary photography, and masses of oral history collected from a variety of people, not all of whom are still living.
Here is what I do know: There are few things with less value than last year’s race bike, especially once the new equipment rolls in. Last season’s bikes are generally stripped of parts useful as spares and they effectively cease to exist. Team personnel often perform a valuable historical function by interfering with the common business of sending obsolete racebikes to the crusher.
I had some experience at Kawasaki’s US importer. In the 1970s, a variety of frames and swingarms—some stock, some modified, some made in Japan, some made here—various combinations of front disc and rear disc/drum brakes, high- and low-boy fuel tanks, plus new parts for engine rebuilds, were available to the riders’ individual builders. From that assortment, they built the best bikes they could. Because crashes were not uncommon, parts were damaged and replaced with whatever was at hand.